Mary Welch

Parents who let baby girl die feared CPS, ‘lacked faith’ in medical treatments due to religious beliefs: Police

The parents of a 10-month-old baby girl who died August 2 of malnutrition and dehydration in western Michigan have been charged with murder in her death, with both facing a life sentence in prison.

Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari, both 27, are each charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse in the death of their daughter, Mary Ann Welch. According to the Detroit Free Press, Welch’s “jaw dropped” when he heard of his possible fate at an arraignment in court on Monday.

As previously reported by CrimeOnline, Mary was found unresponsive Thursday in the couple’s Cedar Springs home, which is located about 25 miles north of Grand Rapids. Welch called authorities and reported the baby was dead in her crib.

Upon arrival, a responding officer said Mary’s eyes and cheeks were “sunken into her head,” according to a police report.

The couple was brought in for questioning and allegedly told detectives that they did indeed notice their daughter’s skinny appearance at least one month prior to her death. When asked why they failed to seek medical attention for the baby, police say the mother cited a “fear of having Child Protective Services called, lack of faith and trust in medical services and religious reasons.”

An autopsy confirmed August 3 that Mary passed away due to malnutrition and dehydration, and the parents were subsequently taken into custody at Kent County Jail, where they remain behind bars.

While the couple was arraigned together Monday, 63rd District Court Judge Sara J. Smolenski said the cases will be treated separately moving forward. The Detroit Free Press noted Fusari “appeared to be holding onto her husband’s arm throughout the hearing, breaking into sobs as the charges were read.”

The suspects have two additional children together, a 2-year-old and 4-year-old who are currently under the care of Welch’s parents. Child Protective Services (CPS) filed a neglect case regarding those children against Welch and Fusari on Monday, according to WOOD-TV. On the same day in court, the judge ordered that they have no contact with the children.

Welch said at the arraignment that he also has an 8-year-old child, though it isn’t clear who that child is residing with.

When asked by the judge if he had any further questions, Welch replied, “There’s a lot I could say,” before Smolenski interrupted him, advising that he should instead speak with an attorney.

Welch posted an eerie message to Facebook on the same day of Mary’s death.

“Heart is about shattered right now, Woke up to Mary dead in her bed this morning – this evening had our children removed and placed on ‘no contact’ because Tati and I are the worst parents ever.”

Heart is about shattered right now. Woke up to Mary dead in her bed this morning – this evening had our children…

Posted by Seth Welch on Thursday, August 2, 2018

 

The father also spoke out in Facebook videos about refusing to have his children vaccinated, according to WOOD-TV. Welch talked of CPS being called on him for his refusal to have his eldest daughter vaccinated, adding that he didn’t get Mary or the other child vaccinated either.

“It didn’t seem smart that you would be saving people who weren’t the fittest,” he said in one of the videos. “If evolution believes in survival of the fittest, why are we vaccinating everybody? Shouldn’t we just let the weak die off and let the strong survive?”

The parents are being held without bond, and their next court appearance is scheduled for August 20.

[Feature Photo: Mary Ann Welch, Facebook]